Archive of Prominent Section 106 Cases:
New Jersey: Development of the Allied Textile Printing Site, Paterson
Agency: National Park Service
Criteria for Council Involvement:
- This undertaking could adversely affect the Great Falls of the Passaic/Society of Useful Manufactures Historic District, a National Historic Landmark, through the introduction of potentially incompatible new construction and the loss of archeological resources (Criterion 1).
- Project implementation is expected to be phased over a lengthy time period, a situation which complicates the National Park Service's ability to consider effects prospectively (Criterion 2).
- There is considerable public concern for the potential effects of the proposed undertaking (Criterion 3).
On December 2, 1999, the National Park Service (NPS) held a consultation meeting to discuss a draft Programmatic Agreement (PA) for the proposed redevelopment of the Allied Textile Printing Site in Paterson, New Jersey. The proposed project would include phased construction of a 108-unit townhouse complex, two mixed-use, four-story buildings, and associated parking and roads.
The PA would require that the project be designed so that new construction is compatible with the Great Falls of the Passaic/Society of Useful Manufactures (S.U.M.) Historic District. The PA would also establish standards and a review process to ensure that adverse effects to the district are minimized or avoided during site preparation, design development, and project construction.
Although many of the consulting parties remain on record opposing the project as it is now proposed, all were constructive in their suggestions about how to improve the agreement and to structure future decision making pursuant to the PA. NPS expects to circulate a revised document once all written comments are received and considered.
The Great Falls of the Passaic/S.U.M. Historic District in Paterson, New Jersey, was listed on the National Register in 1970 and designated a National Historic Landmark in 1976. At Patersonís industrial core, the Great Falls/S.U.M. district was planned and laid out by Alexander Hamilton and Pierre Charles LíEnfant in 1792, making it the Nationís first planned industrial city.
Engraving of Allied Textile Printing Site, Paterson, New Jersey (from the 1861 edition of Historical Collections of the State of New Jersey by John W. Barber & Henry Howe; image courtesy of Nick Sunday)
Paterson flourished as a laboratory and showplace for Hamiltonís theory that successful industry was essential to ensure the new Nationís continued independence from Europe. Much of the districtís original fabric from as early as the 1830s still survives, reflecting the development of the cityís textile, firearms, silk, and railroad locomotive manufacturing industries.
Patersonís industries were powered by the 77-foot Great Falls of the Passaicóa National Natural Landmark which has the highest vertical drop on the East Coastóand a vast and intricate system of water raceways that harnessed the power of the falls. The archeological remains of these raceways remain largely unstudied, not yet interpreted for the appreciation of visitors to this key landmark of the American Industrial Revolution. (For further information on the Great Falls/S.U.M. District, visit www.patersongreatfalls.com.)
In 1992, Congress authorized an Urban History Initiative (UHI) line item appropriation of $4.147 million for the historic district to be administered by NPS and the City of Paterson through a cooperative agreement. The funds were intended for preservation of the historic district and the promotion of viable economic uses for its resources.
The city has assembled a Core Advisory Group that meets regularly to advise the NPS on the identification and administration of projects for the Paterson UHI. Based on a recommendation from the Core Advisory Group, the city has requested that a portion of the UHI funding be used to assist in redevelopment of a seven-acre, city-owned site that once housed Allied Textile Printing, as well as the Colt, Waverly and Passaic Mills.
Remnants of the Colt Mill, in the Great Falls/S.U.M. NHL District, Paterson, New Jersey (photo courtesy of photographer Barbara Small and Paterson Friends of the Great Falls, Inc.)
The condition of the Allied Textile Printing Site led the National Park Service in 1997 to list the Great Falls/S.U.M. District as an endangered National Historic Landmark. The site consists principally of remnants of structures, many of which have been gutted by fire, along with associated archeological remains of the canal raceway system.
To support its proposed redevelopment, the city would utilize UHI funds for site work relating to archaeology, stabilization of ruins, and hazardous materials mitigation. In February 1999, the National Park Service began the Section 106 process for the project, circulating documents for comment.
The proposed project is controversial. Some consulting parties oppose it, maintaining that the new construction, as currently proposed, will be incompatible and will fragment the district. Adherence to the Secretary of Interiorís Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties, a requirement of the cooperative agreement between the city and NPS, is a challenge given the need for new development to be economically viable yet reminiscent of the siteís industrial history.
In addition, the richness and significance of the archeological resources on the project site has led numerous individuals and organizations to call for a continuing role in the decision making regarding how these resources will be addressed. Among those participating as consulting parties are the Society for Industrial Archaeology, the Canal Society of New Jersey, Paterson Friends of the Great Falls, the Passaic County Historical Society, the Roebling Chapter of the Society for Industrial Archaeology, and the New Jersey Historic Trust.
Many cities have decayed industrial areas that pose challenges for balancing preservation of historic resources with economic revitalization. This project offers a powerful example of this dilemma. The ruinous condition of the buildings on the project site calls out for redevelopment, but does not diminish the significance of the district as an important historic resource. The difficulty here as in many other cities lies in finding a way to accomplish much needed redevelopment in a manner that is compatible with its historic context.
Staff contact: Martha Catlin
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